Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Finance

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Cathal Crowe (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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297. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will consider amending the qualifying terms for the Covid restrictions support scheme in order that sports clubs that operate a licensed bar on their premises become eligible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44343/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The support is available to companies, self-employed individuals and partnerships who carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D, from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Living with Covid-19 Plan.

To qualify under the scheme a business must, under specific terms of the Covid restrictions, be required to either prohibit or significantly restrict, customers from accessing their business premises to purchase goods or services, with the result that the business either has to temporarily close or to operate at a significantly reduced level. Details of CRSS were published in the Finance Bill 2020 and detailed operational guidelines on the scheme have been published on the Revenue website at: .

Businesses whose trading profits are exempt from the charge to tax under Case I of Schedule D do not meet the eligibility criteria for CRSS.

A sports club that has been granted a sports body exemption (an approved sports body) is exempt from paying Corporation Tax or Income tax on any income received where the income is used for the purpose of promoting the game or sport. Such income would include income from a bar registered under the Clubs Act 1904 by a sports club. As an approved sports body is not chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D in respect of its trading profits, it will not qualify for CRSS. An approved sports body is not exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) or payroll taxes and may be entitled to financial support under other measures put in place by the Government, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). An approved sports body may also be eligible under the Debt Warehousing Scheme to ‘park’ certain VAT and PAYE (Employer) liabilities and any excess payments received under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

A sports club that does not have a sports body exemption and which has income, for example from a gym, bar or restaurant trade, subject to tax under Case I of Schedule D may be eligible for CRSS for periods of restrictions where that business meets the qualification criteria for the scheme. Under nationwide Level 5 restrictions which applied from 22 October 2020 to 1 December 2020, gyms, bars and restaurants were required to prohibit or significantly restrict customers from accessing their business premises, and therefore such businesses would have been eligible to register and claim for CRSS were the qualification criteria was met.

There has been an easing of restrictions on businesses, with a phased move to Level 3 restrictions nationally from 1 December, with some restrictions easing from 4 December and 18 December respectively. Since 1 December, gyms have been allowed to reopen for individual use and from 4 December, cafes, restaurants and bars which serve substantial meals prepared onsite are allowed to open for indoor dining. In most cases therefore, a gym, restaurant or bar serving substantial meals prepared on site, operating from the sports club premises were no longer required to prohibit or significantly restrict, customers from accessing their business premises from 1stor 4thDecember as appropriate, and therefore do not qualify for CRSS from that date.

Where a business is reopening after a period of restrictions, they will be eligible to claim an additional week’s support under CRSS (referred to as a ‘restart week’) to assist the business in meeting the costs of reopening.

Deputies will be aware that the Finance Bill is currently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas and I have no plans to extend eligibility of the scheme.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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299. To ask the Minister for Finance the reason public houses that serve food seasonally cannot continue to avail of the Covid restrictions support scheme if they choose not to open for the Christmas and the winter season in view of the unviability of opening such premises in many rural areas at this time of year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44359/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The support is available to companies, self-employed individuals and partnerships who carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D, from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Living with Covid-19 Plan.

To be eligible to make a claim under CRSS, a business must, under the specific terms of the regulations, be required to either prohibit, or significantly restrict, customers from accessing its business premises to purchase goods or services, with the result that, during the period of restrictions, turnover does not exceed an amount based on 25% of the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 (or in 2020 in the case of a new business).

The legislative basis for CRSS is Section 11 of Finance Bill 2020, which is currently making its way through the Oireachtas and is expected to be enacted before the end of the year. Revenue is administering the scheme and has published detailed guidelines on its operation which are available on the Revenue website at: .

There has been an easing of restrictions on businesses, with a phased move to Level 3 restrictions nationally from 1 December, with some restrictions easing from 4 December and 18 December respectively. From 4 December, bars, cafes and restaurants which serve substantial meals prepared onsite are allowed to open for indoor dining. A substantial meal is defined in the current public health regulations as a meal which might be expected to be served as main meal/ main course at lunch or dinner and for which it would be reasonable to charge a sum that is not less than €9. The meal must also be substantially prepared on the premises in a “food preparation area”. A food preparation area is defined as an indoor part of a premises which is structurally adapted and used for the purpose of preparing food for consumption by customers on or off the premises. It does not include a tent, caravan, vehicle, storage container or other temporary structure.

A pub serving substantial meals, which are prepared in a food preparation area located in the pub premises rather than ordered in from another business, was allowed to reopen on 4 December and, from that date, ceased to qualify for CRSS. However, the pub would be eligible to claim an additional week’s support under CRSS (referred to as a ‘restart week’) to assist it in meeting the costs of reopening.

Any business that can reopen without having to prohibit or significantly restrict access to their business premises, but chooses not to reopen, will not be eligible to claim under CRSS.

Pubs that do not serve substantial meals that are prepared in a food preparation area located in the premises are not allowed to reopen and, therefore, remain eligible to claim under CRSS.

On 4 December, I announced an additional seasonal support for businesses who cannot reopen through December. Payable for a period of three weeks beginning 21 December, the additional support will provide up to double the amount of the weekly CRSS support payment due subject to the statutory maximum payment of €5,000 per week.

The CRSS is an additional measure for businesses in a region subject to significant Covid-19 restrictions. Businesses who do not qualify under this scheme may be entitled to support under various measures put in place by Government, including existing supports available under the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the range of measures announced as part of Budget 2021 to support particular sectors including Tourism and live entertainment. They may also be eligible to warehouse VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts and also excess payments received by employers under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, and the balance of Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020 for self-assessed taxpayers if applicable.

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